The Ismaili Connection

The Ismaili Professionals Network presents its first podcast: The Ismaili Connection. We’ll speak with professionals from all walks of life and across all industries to bring you compelling stories about their career journeys. We’ll laugh. We’ll learn. And we’ll connect. Who knows, you may find your next Ismaili Connection on our show.

Sonya Keshwani is the Founder and CEO of StyleEsteem. Her company designs and provides fashionable head wraps to people coping with hair loss. She is a breast cancer survivor and her hair loss journey has sparked her motivation to help others live with dignity and in comfort when facing disease. Sonya is also a Strategic Communication Faculty and an ex-employee of the United States Department of Justice. In this podcast, she talks about her cancer journey and the cultural stigma around it, the importance of regular health checks, and her motivations for service. 

* Connect with Sonya Keshwani on Instagram.
* For more information about fashion turbans and StyleEsteem wardrobe please visit

* To learn more about breast cancer, visit the CDC’s website

Galeeb Kachra is a senior environmental protection specialist at the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) who has more than two decades of experience working on a number of environmental initiatives, including helping salmon and orcas with climate change to helping communities in northern Pakistan with natural disaster relief. He considers himself a steward in life, looking after the people and living things on this planet. In this episode, Galeeb talks about his identity–from growing up in Kenya to immigrating to the US for an education. He also shares stories about his time as juror in a wrongful death case, how he lost his hearing in one ear, and the importance of diving in to find your niche. 

Adiba works at Aga Khan National Conciliation and Arbitration Board for the USA. In this episode, she briefly talks about what CAB is and her role within CAB. She also talks about her past work with UNICEF and HOPE and how it ties into her motivation to help people improve their quality of life. Adiba discusses her growing up years in Tajikistan, her family and the unrest situation in the early 1990s and her move to the United States. She expresses her gratitude to Hazar Imam for the help provided to murids in Tajikistan in terms of food supply when there was a shortage. She talks about her education in the United States and the novelties she experienced when she moved to the US coming from a small town in Tajikistan (eg: automatic sliding doors were things that she had never seen before). She hopes to inspire other  immigrants to stay motivated and ask for help from Jamati members and institutions when they face the challenges of settlement in a new country.

* Connect with Adiba Karimi on LinkedIn.
* For more information about the Aga Khan National Conciliation and Arbitration Board for the USA please visit

Alnoor Maherali is a former Canadian diplomat, certified mediator, and co-founder of VennMediation, which helps people have difficult conversations and resolve conflicts in a more equitable way. Before starting his company during the height of the pandemic, Alnoor spent about a decade in public service, first working as a diplomat for the Canadian Foreign Services and then later working for the Aga Khan Development Network. His career journey has led him to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Kenya. He’s helped governments shape their policies and helped during stressful moments such as hostage situations. In this episode, Alnoor breaks down his career, shares several life and career lessons, and gives tips on how people can be better negotiators. 


Connect with Alnoor Maherali on LinkedIn.

Check out VennMediation for your mediation needs.

Nabeel Gillani is a postdoctoral associate at the MIT Center for Constructive Communication in Boston, Massachusetts. Nabeel focuses on analyzing and designing communications technologies to foster connections that help reduce barriers to educational, economic, and social opportunities. In Fall 2022, Nabeel will start a joint appointment as an Assistant Professor of Design and Data between the D'Amore-McKim School of Business and College of Arts, Media and Design at Northeastern University. Prior stops in Nabeel’s career journey include product management at Khan Academy and co-founder of CourSolve -- an online platform designed to connect learners and organizations to collectively tackle real-world challenges. In this episode, hear from Nabeel about lessons learned in his journey, how data and technology can help solve some of the world’s biggest problems, and more. 


Jazzmin Jiwa is an international journalist and documentary filmmaker. She is also the founder of Stories of Survival, an independent online project that shares the stories of survivors from all over the world. Jazzmin, who originally hails from the U.K. and now resides in California, dove into the journalism field after realizing that was her passion rather than artificial intelligence which she studied in university. Her decades-long career in both print and broadcast journalism has allowed her to travel the world, particularly reporting in war-torn countries in the Middle East and Africa. In this episode, Jazzmin shares the skills and lessons that helped her in her career, tips on breaking into journalism, mental health, and life-defining moments.


Connect with Jazzmin Jiwa on LinkedIn.

Support Stories of Survival here.

Read Jazzmin’s piece in The New Humanitarian

Check out The Artist’s Way here.

Amira Valliani is the CEO and founder of Glow, a company that helps podcasters make money. The company was acquired by Libsyn--a big name in the podcasting world--for $1.2 million in April 2021. Prior to finding success with Glow, Amira built a few other businesses, including a start-up that offered people home-cooked meals from their neighborhoods. But building businesses is just one half of Amira’s overall purpose in life, which is to create change in communities. Amira also spent time in the federal government working for the Obama administration.On this episode, Amira dives into key insights for building a company and tips for finding success in podcasting. She also shares the skills and actions that have helped her reach goals, and reveals a funny moment with former President Barack Obama. 


Connect with Amira Valliani on LinkedIn.

Check out

Listen to Backyard Cambridge here.

Learn more about Zomida here.

Naina Noorani is an aerospace engineer at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Naina grew up as a quiet kid who loved sports and school. She knew at a young age that she wanted to help the world and improve society in some way.

A math and science lover at heart, Naina fell into aerospace after taking a chance on applying for the Pathways Program at NASA. She eventually got in and spent one year rotating through three different internships at NASA before completing her final year at Rice University.

On this episode, Naina pulls back the curtain on projects she’s worked on and shares tips for acing an interview. She also explores life lessons she’s learned along the way--from the power of curiosity to not being afraid of taking risks. 

Connect with Naina Noorani on LinkedIn

Learn about the NASA Pathways Program here

Read the transcript here.

Join the Ismaili Professional Network here or send us an email at and we’ll be happy to direct you to the right area.

Where did the idea for the Ismaili Connection come from? How are the episodes put together? Who makes up the podcast team? Hear about these answers and more, as special host Farhan Manjiyani chats with Sony Kassam, Kais Ali, and Sameen Jiwani about their involvement, how they balance their day jobs with volunteering, and lessons learned. 


Email us at

Connect with Sony Kassam on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter.

Connect with Farhan Manjiyani on LinkedIn.

Connect with Kais Ali on LinkedIn.

Connect with Sameen Jiwani on LinkedIn or Instagram.

Shereen Ladha is a dancer and choreographer who has performed all over the world, including Portugal, Dubai, and Australia.

She began attending dance classes at the age of 4 years old. Since then, Shereen has performed on international stages, in Hollywood movies and TV shows, and in videos for her YouTube channel, which has amassed over 130,000 subscribers and more than 27 million views.

Shereen says dancing is the lens through which she sees the world, and it’s also the way she deals with her spirituality. When she’s not dancing, Shereen is a brand strategist at an advertising firm.

On this episode, Shereen shares what it was like to choreograph performances for the Jubilee Games in Dubai, detailed her audition experience for her first Hollywood movie, and much more. 


Connect with Shereen Ladha on LinkedIn.

Find Shereen on YouTube at DanceWithSL.

Watch Shereen’s most viewed dance to Ayyat here.

Watch Shereen’s group performance to a Bollywood remix of Justin Bieber’s Sorry here.

Learn more about Shereen by checking out her website.

Read the transcript here.

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